The OHS dance team poses for a picture in their dance costume and masks
Image source: 42Fifty Editor-In-Chief Lizzy Sorensen

While competition season is something many dancers look forward to every year, who knew what to expect when hearing that this year’s season would be virtual. 

The Oswego High School Pantherettes recently co-hosted their first virtual competition of the year on February 11. From masks, to distancing, to the lack of a crowd, Assistant Competitive Dance Team Coach Susan Sanders shared some insight on what the differences this season look like.

“We have shortened our practices to about two hours instead of two and a half, primarily because of the masks, and we feel like…having those masks on for two solid hours where their heart rate’s up, trying to breathe, we just don’t want to push that,” Sanders said. 

Despite the new rules in place to keep everyone safe, the Pantherettes are taking things one step at a time and still putting their utmost effort into learning the choreography.

“[We] have to be six feet apart when they’re in formations, we can’t do any lifts or any touching of dancers, so they can’t make any contact and do any interactions with each other, which is hard because our routine is about hope and the connections we make with other people building us up,” Head Coach Jessica Lagger said.

The team spends multiple days a week filming for each competition, which they find both benefits and risks out of. 

“I feel like the dancers could be a little calmer, [but] at the same time, they still have to perform when there’s nobody in the audience, and then there’s a challenge in that with less pressure, but then you need the pressure,” Sanders said, and Coach Lagger agreed.

“There’s still a lot of pressure to make that one take go well, you know, you can’t edit videos, which I think is better because I’d rather have everyone have that even playing field,  but you could potentially make a couple videos and choose which one you like best to submit…but definitely a lot of disadvantages of, like, not having that hype of the crowd being there,” Lagger said. 

Still, the coaches emphasized that the girls on the team have no complaints about the differences this competition season holds.

Although the Pantherettes are not having a normal competition year, they are doing their best to make the most of their time and being grateful for what they have. 

“They’re troopers. They just power through. It’s an awesome group of girls, and I love working with them, and I don’t think any one of them have ever said, like, ‘this stinks to dance in a mask’ or anything like that,” Lagger said.

With all this performing in front of an empty gym, the girls are looking forward to getting a crowd out there for once. 

“No matter if you’re in athletics or not, we’re all just rolling with the punches,” Lagger said. 

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